The chemical composition of planet forming disks (speaker: Karin Oberg, CfA Harvard University)

Tuesday, November 21, 4:00pm
Marlar Lounge 37-252

In the past few years a number of rocky, temperate exoplanets have been identified. How often can we expect such planets to be hospitable to life from a chemical point of view? In other words how often do such planets acquire a rich organic inventory? In this talk I will argue that characterizing the chemistry of protoplanetary disks, the formation sites of planets, is key to address the likelihood of finding life on planets, and to identify life when present. The most direct path to constrain the chemistry in disks is to directly observe it. The arrival of ALMA has provided us with the perfect tool to do exactly that. Recent ALMA highlights include constraints on snowline locations, maps of the distributions of small organic molecules, and first detections of more complex organics. Observations can only provide chemical snapshots, however, and even ALMA is blind to the complete chemical composition of disks. To interpret disk chemistry observations and address the full chemical complexity in disks, we require models informed by laboratory experiments, as well as constraints from protostellar and cometary chemical inventories. I will present key constraints obtained from such models, laboratory experiments and observations, and discuss how they inform our interpretations of ALMA observations, and further, predictions of the chemical compositions of nascent planets.